“So how did you learn to cook like this?” Peter asked curiously, midway through a rather sublime meal Neal had prepared for him and El on their anniversary.
“If you want to eat, then you just have to learn how to cook for yourself,” Neal gave an ambiguous reply.
“That’s the answer you’re going with?” Peter said drolly.
Neal rolled his eyes. “Peter, cooking is no great mystery. If you can read a recipe, then you can prepare anything.”
“Sweetie, this isn’t just anything,” Elizabeth chimed in. “Don’t try and pawn it off as a hunk of meat whipped up by some backyard weekend warrior wielding barbeque tongs,” Elizabeth claimed.
“Yeah, it’s so fancy I can’t even pronounce its name,” Peter teased.
Neal sighed. “It’s called nougat de boeuf, a traditional French dish from Provençal consisting of meat and various vegetables, herbs, and spices. I’ve prepared it in a special earthenware vessel called a daubiére, which is specifically shaped to stop the evaporation of the flavorful cooking liquids.”
“My point exactly!” Peter pounced. “It’s an intricate and complicated dish, and who even has that ‘daubie’ thing in their kitchen?”
“Mozzie may have purchased it for me a long time ago,” Neal answered truthfully. It was back during their glory days in Paris. Finding himself with some down time, Neal had applied and been accepted into the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, and he not only learned to concoct gastronomic creations, he was also taught how to pair those dishes with classic wines. Of course, going that extra mile for Peter would have been like flogging a dead horse.
“So, you’re really not going to come clean?” Peter continued to push.
“The only thing that should come clean is your plate, Peter. You still look hungry, so let me give you seconds,” Neal sidestepped the issue. Keeping a little mystery in their partnership was definitely a good thing.